Making waves

Sherbrook Pool struggles to reopen while city partners with YMCA

Sherbrook Pool, an 84 year-old facility in the heart of the inner city, is finally opening its doors once again with the help of $2.8 million of combined funding from the city’s 2014 budget, the province and private donors. The City of Winnipeg called for the pool’s closure in November 2012 after an inspection revealed serious structural problems caused by corrosion in the roof beams.

The Chair of the Friends of Sherbrook Pool, Marianne Cerilli, believes there are no other facilities in the inner city area that can offer the same amenities. “Some of the users were people with disabilities and mobility problems. They really relied on the warm water to help them stay mobile,” Cerilli says, referring to the fact that Sherbrook Pool’s water is much warmer than most other public pools.

“Low income families used the pool and relied on our free swimming lessons,” she continues. “They really don’t want to go to other pools, because they don’t have the money for the transportation, or they can’t afford to take the swimming lessons that aren’t free.”

City Councillor Harvey Smith, of the Daniel McIntyre Ward, echoes these sentiments. “It’s a small price to pay to maintain a facility,” he says. “Sherbrook pool is worthwhile opening because of the complete lack of recreational programs in the inner city.”

Amidst the triumph of the Sherbrook Pool reopening, the City of Winnipeg announced its partnership with the YMCA, and the intention to pour $46.7 million into opening three new YMCA facilities over the course of the next 10 years. These facilities will be located in the southwest, northeast and northwest areas of the city.

Keith Bellamy, a West End resident who ran for City Council in 2010 in the Daniel McIntyre Ward, understands why the city wanted to partner with the YMCA. “I can’t speak for the decision making that goes on in the council, but I think they are looking at population growth and migration within the city,” he says. “Trying to engage a partner that can address this proactively and competently, the YMCA has a record of meeting those needs.

“This is an age old problem in Winnipeg. You can’t constantly be looking out at the extremities and neglecting what’s happening in the inner city.”

Other city councillors have expressed concern about the new YMCA facilities serving the needs of those in the suburbs, while allowing recreation program development in the inner city to go by the wayside.

“The three planned YMCAs will serve the new suburban neighbourhoods they will be built in or near – especially those who can afford to pay the higher fees,” Councillor Ross Eadie of the Mynarski ward explains. “The City has decided by a narrow majority not to build city-owned facilities to provide these services, which could be priced lower given the City’s much bigger operations and budgets.”

Councillor Smith provides an apt description. “Compared to the suburbs, Sherbrook Pool is a spud,” he says. “They get a lot more than we will ever see.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 5, 2014)

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